The Life of Joseph - Lesson 8
Genesis 37:25-28, And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.
This event was a precursor of that which was to take place 1700 years later in the generations of Jacob.
For the Lord Jesus Christ had those that sat while he suffered the horrible pain of crucifixion.
Matt. 27:35,36, And they crucified him........and sitting down they watched him there.
And so the brothers sat down to eat bread while Joseph suffered their cruelty.
And Judah said: Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him;
It is interesting to note that the name Judas is derived from the name Judah.
Judah and Judas were both sellers of their brothers.
Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him;
The Jews, fellow sons of Jacob, would 1700 years later, say a similar thing recorded in John 18:31:
Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:
No we can't get our hands dirty but can work it so others do the dirty work.
Cunning and guile were since Abraham.
Let the Ishmeelites do the work. Let not our hand be upon him!
Perhaps Judah, as he eats his bread has a pang of conscience.
He is concerned about the shedding of blood for the shedding of blood was thought to be a crying out to heaven for justice to be done.
Most likely the others also had pangs of conscience but they were not as clever at compromise as was Judah.
None of these brothers is going to oppose the others but perhaps compromise will solve this problem.
The arrival of a company of Ishmeelites composed of descendants of Ishmael and Midian, sons of Abraham, quickens Judah's mind to a way out.
He realizes that allowing Joseph to die in the pit is not a comfortable thing to do.
It is too drastic.
Let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh.
Judah realizes that they can soothe their conscience and at the same time make some money off the sale of their brother.
Little did they know that the caravan of Ishmeelites was providential.
God uses the wrath of men to praise him and he had this caravan come in good time to rescue Joseph from the pit and separate him from this corrupt family in order to bring this family to himself.
Judah probably reasons that all they really want to do is to rid themselves of this one whose presence has become intolerable.
Judah and the brothers cannot handle the deliberate act of letting Joseph die in the pit but they can tolerate selling him into slavery.
How the mind of man justifies itself.
It is not right to leave him in this pit, but it is alright to sell him into slavery.
Genesis 37:29,30, And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes. And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?
This passage indicates that Joseph's brothers took advantage of Reuben's absence to sell Joseph because of Reuben's interference.
His first reaction is to express his grief by tearing his inner garment, the tunic, at the neck and rending it downwards a few inches as was the habit of those in mourning.
Apparently the pit was some distance from the brothers for we see that Reuben returned to his brothers with cries of grief and great distress.
Did the brothers match his grief?
No, no doubt the brothers told Reuben the details of the sale and that Joseph was out of their lives and they even made 20 pieces of silver on the sale .
But Reuben's grief is real in that he realizes that he will again bring suffering to his father Jacob.
He asks whither shall I go, knowing that there is no place of comfort.
How can I go home and face my father with this?
He knows that there is nowhere to flee from this great sin and its effects.
There is only one thing to do and this thing is typical of the family heritage.
The theme of deception once again boldly appears in the family.
Jacob deceived Issac by using goat's fur and now his sons will deceive him by using goat's blood.
Deceive the father into thinking that some beast killed Joseph.
So how can Reuben get himself out of this mess?
How can he go home and face his father?
The answer of course is in the tradition of the fathers, the big word deception.
So again the deceiver, Jacob is to be deceived by his sons.
Genesis 37:31-34, And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no. And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.
Notice the steps of the brothers in this evil process.
They began with envy, they proceeded to anger, malice, bitterness, and hatred, and they end with a cover up, and a lie backed up by false evidence.
By planting false evidence as to Joseph's death they avoided a diligent search and a constant wondering by Jacob as to what happened to his son.
Their cover up provided a closure to Joseph's life.
But at this point Jacob's faith is tested and is found wanting.
Hadn't God told Jacob that he would make of him a great nation?
Hadn't he most likely given Joseph the birthright by divine guidance, and as such, subject to the protection of God?
Hadn't he heard the dreams of Joseph and observed the saying as if inferring that the dreams were of God?
Didn't he have only one son that was a son of faith and that son was Joseph?
And yet he believes his eyes that look upon a coat dipped in blood.
He concludes that Joseph was rent in pieces by an evil beast and yet the coat was whole and in one piece.
How could the coat be so full of blood with Joseph devoured and yet the coat is not rent or torn.
Like most of us Jacob had yet to learn to believe the word of God instead of what he saw with his eyes.
It is interesting to note that Jacob's sons did not lead their father to a conclusion about what happened to Joseph.
They let him draw his own conclusion as to what the coat and the blood meant.
And it is also interesting in that they did not ask their father if this is our brother's coat but is this your son's coat?
As if to distance themselves from any connection with Joseph!
And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.
Sackcloth was a course rough cloth used for mourning.
Mourning was not a time for dressing in fine clothes.
Because mourning called for sitting in an ash heap as Job did when he mourned the loss of his children and his worldly goods.
Sackcloth signified great sorrow and was a practical cloth for sitting in a pile of ashes used to sprinkle on the mourner's head.
Genesis 37:35, And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.
Perhaps his daughters were pure in their attempt to comfort but his sons continued to act the hypocrite.
Jacob would not let comfort come to him.
This hurt, this sorrow was too deep to be comforted.
He purposed to mourn for his son Joseph to his grave, until he saw his son Joseph again.
We see here Jacob's belief that he would see Joseph in another world.
For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.
This is the low point of the Joseph story.
A family that so easily deceives to win their way cannot hope for anything but pain and grief.
Jacob in his life sowed the wind and he is now reaping the whirlwind.
The rest of the story concerns healing and reconciliation.
Genesis 37:36, And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar(po-tee-far'), an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard.
God now removes Joseph from this destructive family in order for his way to be assured.
Separation is required in order for reconciliation to be accomplished and the building of a people for God's name.
Joseph's brothers sought to rid themselves of their father's favorite son and perhaps improve their status at home.
But God's blessing does not go to those who do such things.
God's choice of a leader cannot so easily be altered. God will have his way in a place called Egypt.
It will provide the incubator where God's plan will be worked. This chapter has provided the principle of:
Those who faithfully serve their master often must endure grievous persecution but cannot be prevented from fulfilling their God given destiny.